She was a Vandal. She was a sorority sister. A cellist. A psychologist-in-training. A bright, talented and courageous young woman.
These were the qualities of Katy Benoit, 22, listed by UI President M. Duane Nellis at Wednesday’s memorial service.
“We gather tonight to recognize the loss of life, the life of a fellow Vandal,” he said as he took the stage. Nellis spoke to a crowd of about 150 in the Administration Building Auditorium. The stage was decorated with flowers, a photo of Benoit and her cello.
Bill Wharton, a music professor and Benoit’s mentor, said he knew her as a girl in Boise and watched as she grew into an adult in Moscow, her “home.” He said she became a competitive cellist with love for everything and everyone.
“She had many friends on campus, who she was willing to help if they got into a jam, be it with transportation or other issues,” Wharton said. “She felt the psychology helped her in relationships with people, which made her choose her field of study.”
Wharton himself played his cello at the memorial, performing Camille Saint-Saens’ “The Swan.” His eyes were closed for much of the performance.
Benoit’s friend Sarah Sutter also spoke at the memorial. The graduate music student said she was cleaning out Benoit’s car, when she found a bracelet Benoit had stretched out across her dashboard.
She said the links were engraved with words so true to Benoit’s life, she thought immediately that her friend had made it herself.
Three small links read “hope,” “dream” and “love.” Four larger links read “find passion,” be brave,” “take chances” and “create change.”
One by one faculty and friends took the stage, sharing stories, tears and music in remembrance of Benoit.
The final prayer was hosted by the Rev. Robin Biffle of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. She took the stage and asked the audience to hold hands with their neighbors.
“Teach us to live again, and always, without fear, to live lightly and with resounding laughter, breathing in the joy and wonder of all Your works, of all that is good and of all that is love,” she said. “We thank you for the gift of Katy Benoit.”